UPDATE 21 JANUARY 2022 One of rock music’s all-time great characters, a wondrously talented, flamboyant, funny, outrageous and rebellious chameleon, has died aged 74 yrs of age. His iconic album ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ is one of the biggest-selling records in history and was an album I played to death just as I left school and began to find my rebellious way into the world! “It’s all coming back to me now!” Sad news. The documentary ‘In And Out Of Hell’ on BBC iPlayer is well worth a view.
I recently went to see Jim Steinman’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical’ (based on the trilogy of albums by the singer Meat Loaf) and, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Connecting, as it did, with my late teenage years of heavy rock, double denim and long hair. Originally written as a musical, Meat Loaf’s 1977 album became one of the most iconic and successful albums of all time selling over 43 million copies worldwide.
There are few crossovers in the story line, in my view, with ‘We Will Rock You’ but the set is amazingly well done: it’s glitzy, loud, glam and totally OTT! The cast more than carry the songs and it took all my self-discipline and restraint to stop myself ‘head-banging’ my way through the show.
The musical tells the story of Strat, a young rebellious leader of ‘The Lost Boys’ – a group of young people living in post-apocalyptic Obsidian whose DNA had been altered through a nuclear fallout, which means they remain 18 years old whilst everyone around them ages and dies.
There is, of course, the obligatory love story: Strat falls in love with Raven, the beautiful daughter of Falco, the most powerful man in Obsidian and then … well, you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself!
The curse of being a perpetual teenager got me thinking about the way many of us hark back to the halcyon days of our youth and behave like adolescents in our attitude and behaviour as adults. Whenever I celebrate my birthday I often say I still feel 18 and, whilst that may be true for my mind, it certainly isn’t true for my body!
The singer Alice Cooper released a single in 1971 entitled: ‘I’m Eighteen’ and ponders in this archetypal slice of teenage confusion: “I’m in the middle without any plans, I’m a boy and a man.” His words: “I’m 18: I don’t know what I want” were echoed five years later by a young man who auditioned to join a band singing this song. “Don’t know what I want” Johnny Rotten sang “But I know how to get it.”
Clinical Psychologist Mitch Prinstein, a professor at the University of North Carolina, claims that our formative experiences, particularly at school, shape how we behave throughout our lives and has a profound influence on our long-term happiness and health. In a recent interview he said:
“People walk around feeling that their appearance is based more on who they were when they were 16 than it is their current objective physical appearance now. That’s true for self-esteem and that’s true for our relationships. We now know that each interaction and every single relationship we have, whether it’s a fleeting experience with a passerby or a deep enduring relationship, every single social interaction is being filtered through our memories and experiences when we were in adolescence.”
Prinstein goes further:
“We’re learning more and more that we tend to be guided a whole lot by who we were when we were 16, more than we are by who we are today.”
He argues that our experiences as teenagers affect our behaviour as adults. He suggests those who were bullies as teenagers crave status and power as adults and often experience dissatisfaction with their lives. Whilst those who were bullied as teenagers strive to be likeable as adults and are characterised by kindness, benevolence and selflessness.
The Book of Colossians in the New Testament teaches that our identity isn’t defined by what we have done or where we come from; our upbringing, schooling or former occupations. Rather, our identity as Christians is based on what Jesus did for us on the cross and how this makes us complete in him. The Living Bible translates Colossians 3:11 in this way:
“In this new life one’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing. Whether a person has Jesus is what matters, and he is equally available to all.”
I, for one, feel quite reassured, and released, to know that my present and future isn’t based on my past.
So, if you’re feeling ‘‘All revved up with no place to go’ you can do no worse than to seek out the promises of a satisfying adulthood that Jesus offers to each one of us.
This is a copy of my article for the July 2017 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’